5 Home Features That Are Worth the Investment (and 3 That Are Not)
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Getting your house ready to sell is no easy feat—in fact, if you don’t know where to invest your money, it can cost you a pretty penny in unnecessary renovations. Knowing your market, therefore, is key: “Today’s buyers are juggling many different priorities when it comes to buying a home, and they can vary depending on the market,” says Zillow’s Amanda Pendleton. “That said, there are some features that will definitely add more bang for your buck when you’re looking to sell a home.” Below, real estate experts share the top features that are worth the expense when you’re looking to sell a home, versus those that absolutely aren’t.
Worth It: An Outdoor Space
“Updating your outdoor space so it’s an extension of your living space can really appeal to future home buyers, especially with the current trend toward remote work,” says Lexie Holbert, a housing expert at Realtor.com.“The good news is, this is not an area you have to spend a lot of money on: Inexpensive outdoor improvements can go a long way when it comes to the value of your home.” Some examples include installing a deck with tiles, adding fruit trees or raised beds and creating living and dining areas with outdoor furniture.
Worth It: Waterfall Countertops
Waterfall countertops, which are stone countertops that come down vertically from the side of an island or peninsula to the floor, may seem like a big splurge: “They cost about twice as much as what you’d pay for a traditional stone countertop on an island or peninsula,” says Pendleton. “However, they’re a big selling feature if you’re thinking about resale: Zillow research finds that homes that mention waterfall countertops in their listing description can sell for 9.4 percent more than similar homes.”
Worth It: New Windows
A window replacement is definitely not the sexiest home improvement project you can make. “But new windows will not only keep you more comfortable, but you’ll see a 15 percent return on your investment when it’s time to sell,” says Pendleton. “Zillow data finds a mid-range window replacement project will earn you $1.15 in resale on every dollar you invest. Plus, homes mentioning double-pane windows in their listing description can sell eight days faster than expected.”
Worth It: Moroccan Tile
Moroccan tile—either cement or terracotta—is characterized by its unique patterns. “It makes a bold design statement, either on a wall or on the floor,” says Pendleton. “This trendy tile often costs more per square foot than a traditional ceramic tile, but the investment may pay off if you’re thinking about selling. Zillow research finds that homes that mention Moroccan tile in their listing description sell for 7.3 percent more than expected, which is significantly higher than homes mentioning subway tile.”
Worth It: Kitchen
Generally, the room of your home that’s going to have the highest return on investment (ROI) is the kitchen. “It’s the heart of the home, and an updated kitchen is one of the most sought-after features for home buyers,” says Holbert. However, there’s a caveat: budget. “A minor kitchen remodel (say around $20,000) that upgrades the space, but doesn’t include the most extravagant finishes, will get you the best ROI of about 80.5 percent. On more extravagant kitchen renovations, the ROI goes down to 62 percent, according to Remodeling magazine’s cost vs. value report,” elaborates Holbert.
Not Worth It: Arches
Spanish-style arches are having a moment—arched doorways, arched fireplace surrounds, and even arched cabinets are popping up all over design Instagram feeds. So, we can’t blame you if you assume these features are worth their high investment. “If you’re lucky enough to have original arched features in your home, enjoy them!” says Pendleton. “But if you’re adding arches to your home to jump on this trend, you may want to think twice. Not only does it take costly skilled carpentry work to add arches, but homes that mention arches in their listing descriptions sell for 1.3 percent less than similar homes… and take two days longer to sell.”
Not Worth It: Microwave Drawer
Microwave drawers are built flush into kitchen cabinetry and can fit unobtrusively under countertops. They’re cool, but expensive: They can run more than $1,000, plus the work to wire and install them. “It’s a hefty investment that doesn’t always impress buyers, who may prefer the traditional countertop or above-range microwave,” says Pendleton. “Zillow research finds homes mentioning microwave drawers in a listing description sell for 1 percent less than homes without that feature.”
Not Worth It: Personalized Finishes
It’s possible you think that personalizing a home will make it more appealing to homebuyers, especially if you’re imparting your own style to the home and giving it a pop of uniqueness that buyers won’t find anywhere else. However, this isn’t always the case: “You'll want to make sure that the improvements you make are popular in the market you're selling in,” explains Steve Wolff, team leader at The Wolff Group. “For example, a southwestern style might be attractive in some markets, while not well received in others. The wrong style of finishings can personalize a property to that particular seller, but not to the majority of buyers looking in that market.”